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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3723 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

Mr Deputy Speaker, of the 3,054 full-time equivalent teachers, 2,310 are female and only 744 are male. In addition, there are 981 female and only 290 male casual teacher registrations. This equates to 24 per cent of all teachers employed as full-time equivalent teachers by the department being male. It also equates to 29 per cent of all teachers registered as casual by the department being male. Therefore, being generous, only approximately one-third of the teachers employed in the ACT by the department are male.

It is important to stress here that there are a number of good reasons why a strong proportion of teachers are females-why females have moved into that work force-and nobody is criticising that. I should add that our female teachers are the best teachers in the country. They are very good teachers.

Mr Hargreaves: They are brilliant!

MR PRATT: They are brilliant, as Mr Hargreaves has so eloquently stressed. It is very important that we recognise that. It is also important to note that many of our female teachers say that in certain primary schools, where they see something like a 15 per cent occupation of those schools by male teachers, they would like to see more male teachers. Many female teachers I have spoken to talk about the need to see a redressing of the balance. They are concerned that they and their colleagues cannot encourage boys, as they get up into the junior high school years, to think about a teaching career. All teachers recognise, really, that there needs to be a rebalancing in the ranks of teachers.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I will go on to look at the attitudes that seem to dominate this debate. I must say I am deeply concerned that educationalists around the country, and several of those here in the ACT-and quite apparently the ACT education department, have given overdue consideration to the June 2002 Dr Andrew J Martin report commissioned by the ACT education department titled Improving the education outcome of boys. Martin took at worst a hostile-and, at best, an ambivalent-approach to the nation-wide and community-wide concerns expressed about boys' education. The report was very strong on the view that boys' needs may be assessed sufficiently within the gender equity framework, which tends to dominate and drive-

Ms Gallagher: He is an expert, Steve.

MR PRATT: Yes, he is an expert. You bet! The gender equity task force did not have in its five terms of reference any strategies relevant to social values, culture, family and home life, mentoring or male role models. These are two vehicles addressing the concerns of boys' education. They did not have between them those types of terms of reference.

I find it astounding that the Martin report and the gender equity task force that Martin so happily deferred to were both thunderously silent on male role models, mentoring and teacher gender issues when addressing boys' education issues. I cannot explain why that might be the case; if they are professional review bodies why they would not take into consideration all the relevant factors when trying to determine whether there was or was not a gap in the performance between boys' and girls' education. Yet we find that they have not dared to look at those issues.

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